As we head into fall’s smart season, things are noticeably quieter: a sad circumstance of the actors’ strike. But there’s a kind of unspoken grandeur to the slate of movies in store, even if the stars and writers can’t promote it. Summation works from heavy hitters like Martin Scorsese and Hayao Miyazaki jockey with titles from well-heeled upstarts like Sofia Coppola and Yorgos Lanthimos. It will be a season to remember, with twice the Michael Fassbender our doctors recommend. Don’t expect another “Barbenheimer,” just plenty of the films that sustain us through the leaner months. Here, our film writers offer their personal picks.

‘The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar’ (Sept. 20; on Netflix Sept. 27)

A man holding a book in a library looks into the camera.

Benedict Cumberbatch in the short film “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.”


So much is usually made of Wes Anderson’s hyper-elaborate visual style as to almost obscure the fact that his approach to story structure — the anthological magazine-issue format of “The French Dispatch,” the nesting of narratives within narratives in “Asteroid City” — has become nearly as dizzying. All of which generates curiosity and raises expectations for this short adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1977 short-story collection, with a cast that includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes, Dev Patel and Ben Kingsley. It surely doesn’t hurt that Anderson’s previous Dahl adaptation, “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” is one of his best-loved movies. Or that “Henry Sugar” — due to be released by Netflix, which now owns the Roald Dahl Story Company — runs a mere 37 minutes, shorter than many TV episodes, and is thus unlikely to overstay its welcome. — Justin Chang

‘Expend4bles’ (Sept. 22)

A squad of super soldiers advances at night.

From left, Levy Tran, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Randy Couture, Megan Fox and Dolph Lundgren in “Expend4bles.”

(Yana Blajeva / Lionsgate)

In the near-decade that humanity and cinema have gone without a new “Expendables” movie, conversations around masculinity have evolved, which should make things interesting when “The Family Stallone” reality TV patriarch Sylvester Stallone returns in the R-rated fourth entry in Lionsgate’s brawny action franchise. Jason Statham steps up to lead the titular band of alpha male mercenaries recruited from your fave ’80s and ’90s action flicks, with Megan Fox, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and martial arts icons Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais joining the fight. Plot particulars involving nuclear weapons-smuggling terrorists are likely to be less memorable than the explosive stunts orchestrated by director Scott Waugh (“Act of Valor”). More curious will be how the film explains the conspicuous absence of franchise regular Terry Crews, who alleged in a 2018 Senate hearing that his outspokenness over sexual assault lost him the chance to reprise his role. — Jen Yamato

‘The Creator’ (Sept. 29)

A sleeping child rests her head on the shoulder of a watchful soldier.

From left, John David Washington and Madeleine Yuna Voyles in “The Creator.”

(20th Century Studios)

AI has played the villain in countless sci-fi films over the years, from “Metropolis” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” to “The Matrix.” Now, with fears of a technological super-intelligence wiping out humanity (or at least Hollywood) no longer the stuff of fantasy, director Gareth Edwards (“Godzilla,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) is upping the emotional ante. Against the backdrop of an all-out conflict between humans and machines, John David Washington plays an ex-special forces agent recruited to hunt down the Creator, an AI architect who has developed a mysterious weapon with the power to end the war — only to discover that the weapon is in the form of a young cyborg child. Citing his influences, Edwards has referenced films as varied as “Apocalypse Now,” “Blade Runner,” “E.T.” and “Paper Moon,” promising a dystopian thriller that aims to be as touching as it is terrifying. — Josh Rottenberg

‘The Exorcist: Believer’ (Oct. 13)

A graying, fearful woman stands at a window.

Ellen Burstyn returns for the sequel “The Exorcist: Believer.”

(Universal Pictures)

Everyone was a William Friedkin fan a few weeks ago (a bit too late), shouting out his late-career wobbles, championing his sinewy earlier work. About one movie, there was no question. “The Exorcist” is a perfect crystallization of its fraught Nixon-era moment, loaded with parental revulsion at counterculture kids, misplaced spiritual longings and the evil potentially lurking in any Karen Carpenter nice girl in a plaid skirt. Director David Gordon Green (responsible for 2018’s updated “Halloween”) has lately become something of a specialist in reviving classic ’70s slashers, staying true to their sleepover-approved stingers while injecting something fresh. He can’t improve on Friedkin’s original, but the spooked presence of Ellen Burstyn is a huge endorsement. (She didn’t need to do this.) Additionally, there is word that Linda Blair herself had a role on set. If you’re even remotely into horror, you’re going to want to see this. — Joshua Rothkopf

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ (Oct. 20)

Two men in cowboy hats talk quietly over a pool game.

From left, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

(Melinda Sue Gordon / Apple TV+)

Simply no one marshals the tools of big-budget filmmaking quite like Martin Scorsese. Even now, in his 80s, he still burns with an unrivaled passion. His latest is an adaptation of the popular 2017 nonfiction book by David Grann, detailing a series of murders of Osage people in 1920s Oklahoma over oil rights. Working with local Osage communities, Indigenous actors and crew, Scorsese’s production attempted to avoid the sort of cultural potholes around representation and authenticity that even just a few years ago would have been simply ignored by a major Hollywood film. “Killers” notably reunites Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, two of Scorsese’s biggest on-screen collaborators, but it is Indigenous actor Lily Gladstone who may be the film’s beating heart, thanks both to her performance and the pivotal off-screen role she played in supporting the long-gestating project, to which she was attached for years. The film premiered earlier this year at Cannes to wide acclaim, and with its October release date, it should be one of the year’s leading awards hopefuls. — Mark Olsen

‘The Holdovers’ (Oct. 27)

A trio bickers outside in a snowy Boston.

From left, Dominic Sessa, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Paul Giamatti in “The Holdovers.”

(Seacia Pavao / Focus Features)

With his previous movie, the sweeping 2017 sci-fi satire “Downsizing,” filmmaker Alexander Payne super-sized the scale of his ambition and ended up with a box office dud that polarized critics and audiences. Six years later, the director of “Election,” “About Schmidt” and “The Descendants” returns to his comfort zone. “The Holdovers” reunites Payne with his “Sideways” star Paul Giamatti for a small-scale, Nixon-era period dramedy about a curmudgeonly, widely disliked prep school teacher who is forced to babysit a group of students who have nowhere to go for Christmas break. Eventually he finds himself forming an unlikely bond with a brainy but rebellious student (newcomer Dominic Sessa) and the school’s head cook (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), who has lost a son in the Vietnam War. Payne is the bard of dyspeptic middle-aged men, and no one plays such men better than Giamatti. — Josh Rottenberg

‘The Killer’ (Oct. 27; on Netflix Nov. 10)

A man in shades and a white hat walks down a city street.

Michael Fassbender in “The Killer.”


Do you really need to know anything more than it’s David Fincher directing a smart, moody drama about an assassin at war with himself — and his employers — after botching a job? That’s the premise, and at the time I’m writing this, it’s pretty much all the info we have. It’s Fincher’s first movie since “Mank,” the warm (for Fincher, anyway) dramatization of the life of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz. “Mank” was an accomplished biopic, earning 10 Oscar nominations, but hardcore Fincher fans, the ones who have committed “Zodiac” and “Fight Club” to memory, were left wanting. “The Killer” should satisfy those with baser instincts, particularly as it reunites Fincher with “Seven” screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker, who adapted Alexis Nolent’s noirish graphic novel. Also notable: Michael Fassbender, better known for his race-car driving than his acting of late, plays the assassin who fears that he’s losing his mind. It’s going to be a chilly affair. — Glenn Whipp

‘Priscilla’ (Oct. 27)

A woman leaning against a wall looks up at an off-camera man.

Cailee Spaeny in “Priscilla.”

(Sabrina Lantos / A24)

By any measure, Priscilla Presley has led an epic life — at times, the stuff of fairy tales, at others, the makings of a nightmare. Meeting Elvis Presley, already an international icon, when she was only a teenager, young Priscilla set upon a path she could never have imagined. To see Sofia Coppola, who specializes in quiet, precise examinations of the interior lives of overlooked women entrapped by privilege, take on Priscilla’s 1985 memoir “Elvis and Me” is just too perfect. The casting of rising stars Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi as Priscilla and Elvis should go a long way toward capturing the interest of younger viewers, energizing material that might otherwise seem musty and oh-so-20th-century. The tale of the Presleys is not yet entirely written, with the untimely death of Lisa Marie Presley earlier this year and the legal battle over ownership of his longtime home Graceland. Following the gaudy maximalism of Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” last year, the tasteful minimalism of Coppola’s style should bring a whole new perspective to a great American saga. — Mark Olsen

‘The Marvels’ (Nov. 10)

Three female superheroes look up.

From left, Iman Vellani, Brie Larson and Teyonah Parris in “The Marvels.”

(Laura Radford / Marvel Studios)

Though the MCU’s grosses have been fine, fan enthusiasm has lagged. This may be due to the relentless onslaught of 10 films and 10 series since 2021, many of them rigidly formulaic and clearly substandard. “The Marvels” could excuse a lot of those interminable origin stories as it teams two newer heroes (TV’s Ms. Marvel and Monica Rambeau) with Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers. Director and co-writer Nia DaCosta (“Candyman”) presents as a comic nerd, which can only help. The full trailer looks fun while downplaying the broad comedy of the earlier teaser. Perhaps the Marvel braintrust has recognized audience exhaustion with the comedy-first approach that has lately characterized the megafranchise in lieu of earned emotion. “The Marvels” could give fans the payoff they’ve earned for sitting through some uninspired stuff. Or it could further demonstrate that the MCU’s greatest enemy isn’t Thanos or Kang, but studio overreach. — Michael Ordoña

‘Next Goal Wins’ (Nov. 17)

A woman and a man go head to head in a confrontation on the soccer pitch.

Kaimana and Michael Fassbender in “Next Goal Wins.”

(Hilary Bronwyn Gayle / 20th Century Studios)

Director Taika Waititi has been talking enthusiastically about this project since at least 2019, when he told The Times, “Sometimes the fear is, ‘It shouldn’t veer too much from the documentary — it’s a true story.’ If you want the real events, watch the documentary. I’m not in the business of telling the truth. There’s that great saying, ‘Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.’” Fleshing out his facts-based, sports comedy-drama, Michael Fassbender plays a Dutch American soccer coach tasked with elevating a barely competitive American Samoan team to World Cup status. The cast includes Elisabeth Moss, Will Arnett, Kaitlyn Dever, Kaimana and Rhys Darby. — Michael Ordoña

‘Thanksgiving’ (Nov. 17)

Have a look at that trailer above, if you dare. It’s for one of those fake movies from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s super fun 2007 double feature “Grindhouse,” and, to remember from crowd reactions, there are many who wished it wasn’t just a lark (“This year, there will be no leftovers”). Looks like they got their wish: Director Eli Roth returns to his grungy two-minute masterpiece, expanding it into a proper feature. Mega-followed TikToker Addison Rae looks to transition into a scream queen, while the cast includes Patrick Dempsey and Gina Gershon, last seen giving Aubrey Plaza a hard time in “Emily the Criminal.” But the real star here is Oscar-winning makeup designer Adrien Morot, who somehow managed to do both “The Whale” and “M3GAN” last year and no doubt has something gross in store. — Joshua Rothkopf

‘The Boy and the Heron’ (Nov. 22)

A young man has tea with a big-nosed creature in a heron costume.

A scene from the animated movie “The Boy and the Heron.”

(Studio Ghibli)

Legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki (“Spirited Away”) came out of retirement to make this film, released as “Kimitachi wa Dou Ikiru ka” (or “How Do You Live”) earlier this summer in Japan. Written and directed by the Studio Ghibli co-founder, the film — which shares its Japanese title with a novel by Genzaburo Yoshino — hit theaters overseas without any of the usual pre-release fanfare such as trailers, promotional stills or even a synopsis. Because of this, I’ve so far refrained from seeking out any coverage or reactions. But my hope from the English title is that the story is centered around a young protagonist. This is no knock to Miyazaki’s films anchored by adults, but I’ve always found the way he sees and portrays childhood as special. — Tracy Brown

‘Maestro’ (Nov. 22; on Netflix Dec. 20)

A shaggy haired man conducts an orchestra.

Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein in “Maestro.”

(Jason McDonald / Netflix)

Composer, conductor, pianist, influential figure in the life of Lydia Tár: Leonard Bernstein was a monumental figure of 20th-century music. (Forget about the nose for a second.) As with most geniuses, he was complicated, and “Maestro,” Bradley Cooper’s long-in-the-works biopic, hones in on that knottiness in its focus on Bernstein’s marriage to Chilean-born actress Felicia Montealegre. Cooper directed and co-wrote the film with Josh Singer (“Spotlight”), and, of course, stars as Bernstein, with Carey Mulligan playing Montealegre. With his 2018 remake of “A Star Is Born,” Cooper displayed a willingness to luxuriate in sweeping, weeping emotions, an enthusiasm that should translate well as he delves into the life of the flamboyant Bernstein. Decades after his death, Bernstein remains a revered figure, beloved for “West Side Story,” “Candide,” his symphonies and his guidance of the New York Philharmonic. With “Maestro’s” impressive pedigree — Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese are among its producers — he may now have the movie his life deserves. — Glenn Whipp

‘Napoleon’ (Nov. 22)

A man sits on a horse, scanning the battlefield.

Joaquin Phoenix in “Napoleon.”

(Sony Pictures)

“The Last Duel” wasn’t the hit it deserved to be (and came in for some undeserved mockery at the 2022 Oscars), but it confirmed that Ridley Scott, a director nearly as erratic as he is prolific, still has few Hollywood peers in the realm of lavish, grand-scaled historical filmmaking. Here’s hoping his forthcoming “Gladiator 2” offers further proof; until that sequel arrives, though, we have this muscular-looking epic action-drama to look forward to, starring Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon Bonaparte during his early rise to power, with Vanessa Kirby as his first wife, Empress Joséphine. All good signs, as is the fact that the script was written by David Scarpa, who previously collaborated with Scott on the under-appreciated “All the Money in the World.”Justin Chang

‘Wish’ (Nov. 22)

A woman watches as a man in a cape summons a floating, glowing ball.

Ariana DeBose and Chris Pine give voice to animated characters in “Wish.”


Long before Disney got into the business of superhero multiverses and rebellions in a galaxy far, far away, it was a studio built on animation that helped propel the form into what it is today. Directed by Chris Buck (the “Frozen” movies) and Fawn Veerasunthorn (“Raya and the Last Dragon”), “Wish” is an animated musical anchoring Disney’s yearlong 100th anniversary celebration. From a wooden puppet who dreams of being a flesh-and-blood boy to a mermaid who longs to explore the human world, many of Disney’s most beloved films have centered characters driven by their desire to make their wishes a reality. I think one of the reasons Disney has such a strong hold on us culturally is because these beautifully rendered stories push us (often from a very young age) to be unafraid to dream. If “Wish” can evoke that magical feeling, it’s a guaranteed future classic. — Tracy Brown

‘The Taste of Things’ (December TBD)

A woman and a man cook together in a kitchen, with helpers.

From right, Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimel in “The Taste of Things.”

(Carole Bethuel / Gaumont)

Up until recently, this movie was titled “The Pot-au-Feu,” taking its name from a beloved French dish, a meal that has been called the “mythical center” of the nation’s cuisine. At its heart, it’s a slow-cooked stew made with whatever meat and vegetables you might have on hand. A democratic dish, if you will. Does it seem like I’m spending a lot of time talking about food and not film? Well, Tran Anh Hung’s exquisite romance opens with an intricate 30-minute set piece in which we watch a renowned chef (Benoît Magimel) and his cook (Juliette Binoche) prepare an elaborate meal at their French countryside chateau. It’s the late 19th century. He’s known as the “Napoleon of culinary arts,” but he understands that he’d be nothing without his muse. “The Taste of Things” is a film about love, devotion, the appreciation of life’s beauty and, yes, the savoring of food. It’s gorgeous and unforgettable and I can’t wait for you to fall under its spell. — Glenn Whipp

‘Eileen’ (Dec. 1)

Two smiling women dance to a jukebox in a bar.

Anne Hathaway, left, and Thomasin McKenzie in “Eileen.”


Mousy 24-year-old Eileen (“Last Night in Soho’s” Thomasin McKenzie) is aimless, deeply unhappy and working at a juvenile detention facility in 1960s New England when glamorous Rebecca (Anne Hathaway) breezes into town in “Lady Macbeth” director William Oldroyd’s latest, adapted by Ottessa Moshfegh and Luke Goebel from Moshfegh’s 2015 novel. Crackling with black humor and delicious menace, the period psychological thriller arrives in theaters after a Sundance debut that rightfully earned Hathaway raves for her seductive turn as the enigmatic older woman whose interest awakens a transformation in the impressionable and quickly obsessive Eileen. But it’s the electricity that sizzles as she and McKenzie dance around their increasingly off-kilter entanglement — and a scene-stealing appearance by the chameleonic Marin Ireland — that makes “Eileen” one of the year’s most sly and mesmerizing watches, “Carol” by way of Hitchcock, an affair to remember and recoil from in equal morbid measure. — Jen Yamato

‘Poor Things’ (Dec. 8)

A woman in an outdoor market stares up at the sky.

Emma Stone in “Poor Things.”

(Atsushi Nishijima / Searchlight / 20th Century Studios)

When Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos first garnered attention with the allegorical absurdities of “Dogtooth,” few would have predicted he would soon be making prestige pictures with international stars that somehow still felt fully idiosyncratic, adventurous and emotionally resonant in ways that are often hard to explain or understand. Following the successes of “The Lobster” and “The Favourite,” Lanthimos has returned with an adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s 1992 novel. The film looks to be Lanthimos’ biggest, wildest story yet, a sci-fi fantasy riff on “Frankenstein” starring Emma Stone (also a producer on the film) as a woman brought back to life, with a cast that also includes Willem Dafoe, Mark Ruffalo, Ramy Youssef, Jerrod Carmichael, Margaret Qualley and Christopher Abbott. The movie was originally scheduled for a September opening, but the Searchlight Pictures release has been pushed back to early December, presumably in hopes that the impressive cast may be able to promote the movie by then. — Mark Olsen

‘The Zone of Interest’ (Dec. 8)

A woman carrying a baby smells a flower in her garden next to a concentration camp.

Sandra Hüller in “The Zone of Interest.”


File this one under “films I’m most excited to see … again.” Jonathan Glazer’s brilliantly oblique, technically immaculate study of human evil, set in and around the Auschwitz-adjacent home of a Nazi commandant (Christian Friedel) and his wife (Sandra Hüller), first screened earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was so well received that some deemed its second-place Grand Prix win a consolation prize. I’m curious to see how the movie — freely adapted and reimagined from a 2014 novel by the late Martin Amis — plays outside a festival setting, how audiences respond to a Holocaust drama assured enough to keep its horrors just out of view, though not out of earshot. I also hope it spurs more than one moviegoer to seek out Glazer’s undersung “Birth” (2004) and “Under the Skin” (2013), two achievements as eerily hypnotic in their own way as this. — Justin Chang

‘Wonka’ (Dec. 15)

A man and an Oompa-Loompa have a conversation.

From left, Timothée Chalamet and Hugh Grant in “Wonka.”

(Warner Bros. Pictures)

Though the original Roald Dahl book has its young protagonist, Charlie, in its title, it’s the proprietor of the business who steals the show on-screen. The 1971 movie “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” remains such a delicious adaptation largely because of the beguiling Gene Wilder, who flipped between embodying wondrous creativity and reclusive angst at the drop of his iconic top hat. That said, if there’s anyone I’d trust to make another movie with this beloved character — especially after that unnecessarily dark take with Johnny Depp — it’s Paul King, the writer and director of the delightful “Paddington” films. This origin story (also a full-fledged musical) stars Timothée Chalamet as the eccentric inventor-magician-chocolatier and features original songs by Neil Hannon of the band the Divine Comedy. The cast also includes Olivia Colman, Sally Hawkins, Keegan-Michael Key and Hugh Grant as an Oompa-Loompa. — Ashley Lee


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